Thinking through discomfort
Comfort did not originally refer to contentment. Its root – the Latin confortare – suggested consolation in both the affectional and theological senses. It was not until the late eighteenth century that the word began to indicate the realm of physical satisfactions.1 Throughout the nineteenth century, the term cleaved ever more closely to the experience and expectation of bourgeois, middle-class domesticity – and the Anglo-American model above all – with its foundations laid firmly in the consumption of mass-produced goods. In the 1920s, the now-familiar concept of a ‘comfort zone’ was introduced in engineering, where it referred to ‘conditions under which a person can maintain a normal balance between production and loss of heat at normal body temperatures and without sweating’.2 While a comfort zone might emerge spontaneously from given environmental conditions, it is primarily the object of an artificially controlled, thermally stable construction.
On Discomfort: Moments in a Modern History of Architectural Culture
Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified